It’s not often that you see historic racing in snowy conditions, but that was just one of the highlights of this year’s Goodwood Members’ Meeting. Full gallery here
The elements did their best to dampen spirits at the 76th Members’ Meeting, but the freezing rain and patches of snow only added to the atmosphere and drama. Here is John Lakey’s gallery from this year’s event.
The 4th Goodwood Members Meeting of the new era was also the 50th event of the new era and was about one thing: #Fever.
The terrible freezing conditions made the event challenging, for everyone; the racers, mechanics, spectators, marshals, even the tractor drivers towing cars out of the car park (including your correspondent). However, there was no discussion about cancelling it, because this meeting was about paying tribute to one of the classic car community's own; Henry Hope-Frost, who passed away in a motorcycle accident on 8 March.
Henry has long been part of the commentary team at Goodwood and was universally loved for his energy and infectious enthusiasm. His fantastically detailed knowledge of our sport made his interviews with drivers and engineers so interesting and because he was still a fan at heart, he knew what fans wanted to know.
His catchphrase, fever, was carried on most of the cars and the meeting closed its radio coverage at 7pm on Sunday night, in what was by then a proper blizzard, with Henry's 'feverbet', an impromptu motoring version of the whole phonetic alphabet which started, of course, with Alfa Romeo but contained such as Uhlenhaut for U (from Mercedes engineer and driver Rudolf Uhlenhaut) and rally driver Xavier Pons for X.
Goodwood shook to a minute of noise in homage to Henry as the F5000 cars revved hard in the assembly area, a fitting tribute to a man whose love of racing cars and the people who guided them was infectious. RIP Henry – you will be much missed.
The Duke of Richmond and Gordon pays tribute to Henry after the minute of noise, over the circuit's big screens.
In typically eclectic Goodwood style the first car on track was a 1964 Wolseley 16/60! Owners Malcolm and Tracey Page had driven it from Normandy, France, to attend, and headed the Goodwood Road Racing Club's 20th anniversary parade which saw 76 cars (76th members meeting, remember) open the track.
The GRRC handpicked the cars in the parade to show the variety of vehicles owned by members, from this Bentley, whose driver is carefully checking his mirror before entering the chicane (very sensible sir), C1 Corvette and Mustang specialist Bill Shepherd's wonderful right-hand-drive Ford Galaxy low-rider – check out the interior door caps through the windows!
Guy Maylam's 1973 Simca 1100 GLS Estate, which is thought to be the only right-hand-drive example remaining. Guy bought it off the supplying dealer in Yeovil almost 20 years ago, as they had taken it back in part exchange and used it as a garage hack. He paid £35 for the car, but had to restore it...
Simca did not re-engineer the original design's 'strip' speedo for right-hand-drive when they face-lifted the model so when he attends rallies in France everyone thinks it's a pre-68 car.
The first race, the Ronnie Hoare Trophy, contained an altogether different example of this marque, a delectable and super-rare Abarth-Simca 2000GT Corsa. A 200bhp rear-engined machine launched in 1963, which won races but had a short life because Chrysler effectively bought Simca shortly after.
Simon Orebi Gann's Morgan Plus 4 SLR was spectacular on the overrun, producing 'flame-outs' from its side exhaust on the over-run in an attempt to combat the arctic weather in practice, but did not run in the race.
At the start it looked like Vincent Gaye's Ferrari 275GTB/C had the legs of the chasing Porsches but an early spin, which luckily did not damage the car. Gaye fought back to finish third and got fastest lap in the process. He was amusingly philosophical about spinning his valuable toy during the post race interviewee in a way that's essential for gentleman racers; a brilliant attitude that keeps these cars on track, where they belong.
The meeting celebrated Porsche's 70th anniversary, and fittingly the first race was won by Simon Cottingham in one of seven Porsche 904s competing. This picture shows Gaye running second in the 275 ahead of eventual second place man James Bellinger in a Morgan Plus 4 SLR. And yes that's right, seven examples of what is surely still Porsche's most purely beautiful car in one race!
Porsche moved from the sublime beauty of the 904 to the brutalism of the 935 in just 12 years, and the Gp5 high-speed demonstration featured an abundance of 935s including the best livery, the Martini Racing Porsche 935/78 'Moby Dick'. Squint and you can see the 911 origins in this Group 5 'Special Production' (as the class was called) which had a rule book so open it effectively became a silhouette formula with only the passenger cabins of production cars being used on the racing machine, which regularly had over 800bhp. The 935 was the first production-based car to win LeMans outright for many years (start that argument in the pub but don't write to us!) when, in 1979, they took all 3 podium positions with a 934 in fourth.
Although you have to look hard to spot even the silhouette of the Zakspeed Ford Capri, which in 1.7-litre turbo form had over 650bhp, it was apparently a forgiving and well-balanced car.
Capris and Rover SD1s dominated the grid of the Gerry Marshall Trophy which ran into the twilight and snow flurries of a bitterly cold Saturday evening. However, after a valiant and spectacular drive by both Mike Jordan and Mike Whitaker in the ex-Gordon Spice MkIII 3-litre Capri, the pair had to give best to Kerry Michael and ex F1 driver Mark Blundell in the Castrol Escort RS2000.
In the latter stages Jordan flung the red Capri around in a display which looked and sounded superb, and was reminiscent of Marshall's trademark style, but ultimately was not as fast as Blundell's controlled neat drive in very difficult conditions.
The Mustang Boss 302 of Craig Davis and Jason Plato initially held second behind the Capri and held the Escort at bay but its bonnet flew off, thankfully without doing any damage to others, and they failed to finish.
The most popular and unlikely car in the Gerry Marshall Trophy was the 1981 Volvo 242 of Phil Perryman who'd actively gone looking for an unusual touring car after racing BMWs for many years. He found the car in a poor state, but complete, in France where it had been built to race in the French Saloon Championship in period. He's restored the car totally and researched its history, retaining its Group 1.5 specification. The tuned version of Volvo's 2.1-litre turbo produces almost 300bhp which, according to Phil, 'is a bit of a handful because its comes in all of sudden'.
You couldn't call the car fast compared to others in the race but it certainly made the crowd, and fellow competitors, smile and that's half the battle. This was its debut, with hardly any testing, and Phil intends to refine the set-up, so it may surprise a few people later in the year…
The Members' Meeting's spring theme is the daffodil and over 410,000 bulbs (I wonder how they actually kept count of that?) have apparently been planted around the track. It certainly makes an impression on track to drivers and spectators alike but the theme continues in the Daffodil Bar and restaurant where the women of the Boxgrove WI were making Daffodil Corsages, and in a splendid display of pointlessness of which we wholeheartedly approve, knitted Daffodils. Just say 'knitted daffodils' 2 or 3 times out loud, it will brighten your day!
Although it would seem five-year old Thomas Duncan was less than enthusiastic, while Mum Faye and 8 year old sister Emily got into the ancient art of corsage making, he remained distinctly unimpressed; 'Mum you said there would be racing cars!' He wasn't even impressed by the WI's clever canoe recycling scheme behind the stall. Now you know what to do with that old canoe that's been in the way for years.
This, on the other hand, is a proper use for the daffodil... to frame a Jag on opposite lock. In this case the JD Classics prepared Mk2 driven by Chris Ward, who came 15th in the Sears Trophy.
The 1926 GN Parker special of Justin Maeers uses a 6.1-litre DH Gypsy Moth aircraft engine and came home third in the Bolster cup.
In fifth place was the GN-Curtis 'Vitesse' of Duncan Pittaway, again using a GN lightcar chassis powered by a 8.3-litre Curtiss V8 aero engine which produces over 100bhp at max revs, 1800rpm.
The glorious 1935 Bentley Pacey-Hassan Special came seventh in the Bolster Cup. It's a very important car historically, marking a bridge between Wally Hassan's early working life at Bentley and his later career as chief engine designer at both Coventry Climax and Jaguar, where he was part of the small team that designed that superb silky-smooth V12.
Sunday morning saw Goodwood staff clearing snow and a ghostly feel to the whole track that was quite magical. Few have ever seen, or I suspect will see again, a race for GP cars in the snow. Tony Wood dominated the Hawthorn Trophy race for front-engined Grand Prix cars which kicked off Sunday’s on-track action in a car Hawthorn had raced.
The Cooper-Bristol ace stormed into an early lead after pole-sitter Geraint Owen was forced to retire his Kurtis-Kraft before the warm-up lap because of frozen fuel! This was a problem for other methanol cars as well.
Former F1 star David Coulthard, who raced Mercedes powered McLarens, brought this Gullwing home an impressive 9th against strong opposition in the Salvadori Trophy, although it may have helped that he was reasonably warm!
Certainly compared to winner Martin Stretton in the open cockpit Lister.
Pole sitter Jon Minshaw in similar Lister spun early on and recovered to fifth.
Top Mini exponent Nick Swift built a new car from scratch to try and win the Jack Sears Trophy for pre-’66 Touring Cars. However, this was the last race of the meeting and while he was easily the best of the rest, finishing in a lonely fifth place and putting in incredible times for a Mini, the track had dried out, taking away the Mini's big traction advantage.
The rapid four Lotus-Cortina train ended in victory for BTCC ace Andrew Jordan in the grey car, number 77. Former touring car star Steve Soper fought back to fourth after an early off-track excursion. Note the snow capped peaks in the background!
One of the great sights of the weekend was the ex-works rally Healey of father and son team Paul and Richard Woolmer being flung around the track sideways at every opportunity, and being fast with it! One of the only cars racing that was built for these conditions…
Sadly the Rover Vitesse of Peter Mallet wasn't, and found little grip on the grass after an altercation in the first corner.
Which gave the marshals and track team some extra work. They really were the heroes of the 76th members meeting, through bitterly cold wind, snow, sleet and rain these unpaid volunteers kept the meeting running with rye good humour, just for the fun of it. They deserve the applause this weekend.
Words and photography: John Lakey